Metalmark Butterflies (Riodinidae)

picture of a male red-bordered metalmark butterfly

The Metalmarks (Riodinidae), a large family of tropical butterflies, also inhabit the southern edges of North America. Their combined presence totals approximately twenty native species, divided into six genera.

Loosely held together by the appearance of a metallic thread or band running through the wings, metalmarks otherwise get described as small, nondescript, brown butterflies.

branding holder
The two most colorful native metalmark species, the Blue Metalmark and Red-bordered Pixie, reside in areas along the Lower Rio Grande valley of Texas.

Metalmarks also fly around Southwest habitats, and three species fly east of the Rocky Mountains. The Northern Metalmark and Little Metalmark appear in pockets along the East Coast. Swamp metalmarks have established a small presence along the lower Great Lakes region and Midwest.

picture of a Fatal Metalmark butterfly

The Fatal Metalmark (Calephelis nemesis), picture two, a fairly common species found from Southern California, east to Southern Texas, shows some traditional metalmark bland, brown wings.

The caterpillars feed on seepwill and other plants in the Aster family, and adults nectar at nearby flowers.

picture of a mormon metalmark butterfly

The Mormon Metalmark (Apodemia mormo) holds the title of the widest ranging of all North American Riodinidae species. It lives in most regions of the Rocky Mountains, west to coastal areas.

Adult wing patterns assume a variety of forms. Picture three shows a specimen having a dominant orange wing color. Other forms show a dominant black wing color, especially on the hindwings. The numerous white spots on the wings are another good field identification clue.

The caterpillars feed on a variety of buckwheat plants. Adults nectar on nearby flowers.

picture of a Palmer's Metalmark butterfly

The orange color at the border of the hindwings and forewings helps identify the.Palmer's Metalmark (Apodemia palmeri), a common Southwest species.

Their caterpillars feed on the leaves of the native mesquite. Adults nectar on nearby flowers.

picture of a female red-bordered metalmark butterfly

Red-bordered Metalmarks (Caria ino), an uncommon species, inhabits areas of the Lower Rio Grande Valley of Texas.

Males, like the one in the top picture, have dark wings, bordered in red with a silver or metallic band running through the red border. Females have lighter wing colors, with the same red bordering and metallic band.

The caterpillars feed on spiny hackberry, and adults nectar on nearby flowers.

© 2007-2016. Patricia A. Michaels. All Rights Reserved.